Disabled aren’t “the public”?

This was the connotation of a comment made by Phil Halse in an article in the Whangarei Leader “Concern over mobility parks” which contained other surprising remarks made by council members; Phil Halse Sheryl Mai and Kahu Sutherland.

A particularly derogatory comment from Phil Halse; “I think we’ve got a good amount of disabled car parks. We’ve got to be able to give our public access to the front door”, was down right insulting insinuating that disabled people are separate from ‘members of the public’”.

There seems to be ignorance around other overarching strategies in the Whangarei area by these Councillors’. For example the Whangarei District Walking and Cycling Strategy and the Healthy Eating and Healthy Action Strategy (HEHA).  Both these strategies involve promoting walking and cycling activities over driving from A to the closest B in ones car.

Northland has a high representation in adult obesity which in turn pushes up statistics in heart disease and diabetes. This was punctuated by Kahu Sutherland’s Cardiac arrest last week.
A common sense approach would be not to provide parking as close to the destination for everyone, but to target people for whom walking any distance is not an option. 

Christchurch City Council has formally put this goal into their own Disability Strategy;
“To ensure parking provisions for people with physical disabilities are retained or enhanced when ‘green’ anti-car measures are implemented in central cities.”

Hopefully the Whangarei District Councilors’ will become more enlightened of the community they represent and more aware of broader community strategies.

Published 18/12/2007